press trust of india
NEW DELHI, 20 JUNE: Former Coal secretary H C Gupta was today questioned for over seven hours by the CBI over alleged irregularities in the coal blocks allocation from 2006 to 2008 during his tenure.
Mr Gupta faced tough questions for allegedly overlooking the misrepresentation of facts by AMR Iron and Steel Private Limited which was allocated Bander Coal block in Maharashtra.
Mr Gupta, who resigned as member of Competition Commission of India (CCI) after CBI summoned him as an accused in the case, was asked about a Screening Committee meeting chaired by him.
During this meeting, Mr Gupta, a 1971 batch IAS officer of UP cadre, had cleared the coal block in favour of AMR group.
CBI had last year registered a case against AMR directors Devendra Darda, son of Congress MP Vijay Darda, along with Arvind Jayaswal, Manoj Jayaswal and Ramesh Jayaswal.
The CBI claimed AMR had “fraudulently and willfully” concealed the fact that its group of companies have already been allocated five coal blocks with an “object to avoid scrutiny on this count which would have weakened its claim”, they said.
The allegation against the former Coal secretary was that the committee did not follow the mandatory procedures and did not carry out proper background checks while allocating coal blocks to the companies.
The government had initially refused to grant permission to CBI to question Mr Gupta as he was a member of CCI but yielded after the agency decided to inform the Supreme Court about not getting the sanction to proceed against him.
During his period as secretary beginning from June 2006 to November 2008, 68
coal blocks were allotted to 151 companies and files of some of them had gone missing.
The government gave the permission on 11 June and a day later Mr Gupta submitted his resignation from CCI.